July 2016 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Multiple Ronds de Jambe

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Tip 1
When a barre combination includes multiple ronds de jambe, students frequently need to be reminded to draw a complete half circle on the floor with the working toe before starting the next rond de jambe.
Tip 2
Another mistake often seen in multiple ronds de jambe is cutting short the final one to close in fifth. To correct this, try giving one fewer rond de jambe than the music suggests.

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July 2016 | FYI

Ballet educator Jo Rowan will receive ADCC's 2016 Lifeltime Achievement Award and Choreographer Bill T. Jones will be recognized with an International Humanities Medal. Left photo courtesy ADCC; right photo by Christina Lane

What’s up in the dance community:
Bringing Ballet to DC’s Youth
TADA! to Create Dance Credential in California
Recognition for Jones, Rowan

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July 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Making Merry, Making Money

What started as a church bazaar more than 35 years ago has grown into a shopping extravaganza that raises millions of dollars for the Houston Ballet Foundation.

If Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market is any example, things really are bigger in Texas. The annual fundraiser generated $6.5 million in gross revenue in 2015 and contributed $5 million to the company’s Foundation, which supports the general fund, academy, and scholarship programs.

Now in its 36th year, the Houston Ballet (HB) Nutcracker Market is a regional tradition that draws more than 100,000 visitors to the massive NRG Center. Along with shopping nearly 300 merchant booths filled with home decor, toys, crafts, and gourmet food, attendees can enjoy a preview party, fashion shows, and raffles.

A Nutcracker-themed market can be a fantastic fundraiser for local companies and small studios too, even when done on a fraction of the HB event’s scale. HB Nutcracker Market CEO Patsy Chapman and associate director Daisy Perez share their experience and tips for making any marketplace a very merry event.

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May-June 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Clothing That Fits

In-studio stores offer fingertip convenience to clients at E-Dance Center in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy Perform Group, LLC

“What will my child need?” may be the most common question studio owners are asked by new students’ parents. What style and color leotard? A ballet skirt or not? What about tap or jazz or hip-hop?

Some studio owners send customers to retail stores or fill clients’ needs from a stash in a supply closet. Others create small boutiques in the lobby or run full-inventory retail stores as part of or separate from the studio. Still others partner with dancewear suppliers that serve their clients and offer incentives to studios. Here, we take a look at both sides of that equation, with both dancewear companies and the studio owners who partner with them chiming in.

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May-June 2016 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Leg Stretches on the Barre

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Tip 1
I love walking into a studio where dancers are busy stretching quietly before class or rehearsal. Encourage students to leave conversations outside. When they pass through the studio door, they should enter a quiet and peaceful dance space.
Tip 2
When stretching the leg in devant on the barre, it’s helpful to think of keeping the supporting hip as close to the barre as possible and the working hip perpendicular to the barre. As dancers transition in devant from attitude to a fully extended leg, to relevé, to stretching the split, they must concentrate on keeping the legs crossed. The stretch should be felt equally in the supporting hip and the working inner thigh. Make sure students don’t add stress to the supporting knee by not pulling up or by leaving too much weight in the heel.

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May-June 2016 | Ballet Scene | Walking the Walk in Memphis

Teaching artist Jame Stokes works with students at Dunbar Elementary, the first school in which NBE established a residency. Photo courtesy New Ballet Ensemble & School

Where can you find a studio that offers hip-hop, ballet, Memphis jookin, tap, jazz, flamenco, African dance, Chinese dance, and modern dance classes—and that prioritizes heavily underserved students to boot? That rare distinction goes to Memphis, Tennessee, home of New Ballet Ensemble & School (NBE).

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March-April 2016 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Pivot Points and Partner Walks

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Tip 1
After male students understand the basics of a partnered promenade (keeping the female dancer well balanced over her supporting leg, his hands as contact points on her hips), it’s time to work on their footwork in arabesque promenades.
Tip 2
In classical ballet pas de deux, the male dancer typically leads the female onstage in a hand-and-waist position. When entering, assuming starting positions, moving through transitions, or exiting, the male dancer “drives” when partners walk or run together. Younger dancers need to be told this early and often to avoid battles over which dancer leads.

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February 2016 | Moving Images

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Videos of note (new and not)
1. William Forsythe: From a Classical Position/Just Dancing Around?
2. Trash Dance
3. Ballet 422
4. Last Dance

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February 2016 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | Bournonville’s Napoli

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1
August Bournonville created the three-act ballet Napoli in 1842, inspired by a trip to Italy with his close friend Hans Christian Andersen (whose diaries contributed to the libretto). In Naples, Bournonville stayed in the Santa Lucia port and swam in the gulf (the settings for Act 1), visited Capri’s Blue Grotto (Act 2), and visited the Monte Vergine shrine and danced the tarantella with peasants (Act 3). Bournonville assigned sections of the ballet’s score to four composers—Niels W. Gade (known as the father of Danish music), Edvard Helsted, Holger Simon Paulli, and Hans C. Lumbye—and he himself suggested several of the musical themes. Tip 2
Napoli’s score includes several dance/musical forms

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February 2016 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Starting Barefoot, and Stretching With Ronds de Jambe

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Tip 1
From time to time, it helps to have students take off their flat shoes to start class. Try this after long breaks, or when students are doing lots of pointe work, or when you notice they’re not using foot muscles to the fullest.
Tip 2
By the time you give a rond de jambe combination, students should be well on their way to reaching their full warmed-up potential, and class should be at the 20- to 30-minute mark—the perfect time for a long stretch.

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February 2016 | Prince, Feather, Hummingbird

Artistic director ebon Gage and student Jillian Strathy (left) worked together for months on the ballet's libretto. Photo by Mark Berlin

It was September 2013 and Kingston School of Dance was about to return home. During the previous four and a half years, the studio had set up shop three times in three different locations while its permanent location, the city-owned J.K. Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, was under renovation.

With the return to the Tett impending, KSD artistic director Ebon Gage says he wanted to “do something exciting” for the studio’s 250-plus families, who had remained loyal and patient through all the moving. He decided to produce an original ballet, and he turned to 14-year-old student Jillian Strathy to write it.

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February 2016 | Ballet Scene | Tales of Two Teachers

Pollyana Ribeiro brings her detailed and inspirational teaching style to students at SF Ballet School. Photo by Erik Tomasson

Over the past quarter century, some of ballet’s most distinguished teachers have shaped the students of San Francisco Ballet School, among them Irina Jacobson, Lola de Avila, Jorge Esquivel, Antonio Castilla, Gloria Govrin, Jean-Yves Esquerre, and Edward Ellison. Recently, two other teachers joined that list: Pollyana Ribeiro, who became part of the full-time teaching staff in 2014; and Yannick Boquin, who chooses to guest teach exclusively. In February 2015, I watched both of them teach class, with a goal of discovering what they might add to the educational structure Patrick Armand, associate director of SF Ballet School (under the direction of artistic director Helgi Tomasson) is putting in place.

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January 2016 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Cabriole Fouetté and One-Legged Finishes

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Tip 1
There are two ways to do a grand cabriole fouetté sauté landing in arabesque, and the beginning of the jump is identical for both: a 90-degree battement devant upon takeoff. The dancer can either cabriole the leg devant, then fouetté and land in arabesque; or (the more advanced version) fouetté, then cabriole in arabesque before landing.
Tip 2
It’s critical for advanced students to be able to finish pirouettes en dehors in positions other than fourth-position lunge or fifth position. One-legged finishes, such as soutenu attitude derrière or devant, showcase a dancer’s balance, control, and strength.

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January 2016 | Collective Wisdom

CollectiveWisdomT

Who makes ballet mandatory in order to take jazz? I am trying to implement this in my program this year and I have an older student who hasn’t had ballet in a few years and does not want to take it. Do I grandfather her in and let her just take jazz? Or make it mandatory for everyone?

“Reality Check: Must. Do. Ballet”: Q: Who makes ballet mandatory in order to take jazz? I am trying to implement this in my program this year and I have an older student who hasn’t had ballet in a few years and does not want to take it. Do I grandfather her in and let her just take jazz? Or make it mandatory for everyone?
—Ashley Brown

“Classroom Connection: Stories That Move”: Whether you teach a parent/child class, creative movement for preschoolers, or pre-ballet for kindergarteners, starting your youngest kids’ classes with a book can be calming and inspiring at the same time.

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January 2016 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | La Sylphide and Reels

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1
The first Romantic ballet, La Sylphide, a two-act ballet set in Scotland, depicts a love triangle between James, a farmer; Effie, his fiancée; and a sylph, or forest spirit. Torn between real and fantasy loves, James chooses fantasy, with tragic results. The ballet premiered in 1832 in Paris to acclaim, with Filippo Taglioni’s choreography showcasing his daughter Marie as the sylph. Jean-Madeleine Schneitzhoeffer’s score, with its lilting 6/8 rhythms and buoyant 2/4 variations, especially for the female leads, lends itself to petit allegro—ballonnés, pas de bourrées, brisés, and cabrioles.
Tip 2
Rhythmic and melodic features of Scottish Highland dances (which both Taglioni and Bournonville studied) appear in both La Sylphide scores. The Highland spirit is best captured in Løvenskjold’s Act 1 reel, based on the traditional tune “McDonald’s Reel”—perfect in class for dégagés, petits battements, and petit allegro.

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January 2016 | Moving Images

MovingImagesT

Videos of note (new and not)
1. Kagemi—Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors
2. Ballet Boys
3. Bomba: Dancing the Drum
4. Flamenco, Flamenco

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January 2016 | Eastern Influences

An Arts Cure Center production is based on a Japanese folk tale about a fisherman, Urashima Taro, who rescues a turtle and is rewarded with a visit to the bottom of the sea.  Photo by Keiichiro Hoashi

Dance is big in Japan. Ballet was introduced in Japan in the 1910s by Russian émigrés, and in the 1920s and ’30s Japanese dancers brought German expressionist modern dance back from Europe. After World War II, American modern dance influences took hold in Japan; more recently hip-hop has folded itself comfortably into Japanese culture.

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December 2015 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | Leitmotifs and National Dances in Coppélia

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1
Coppélia (1870), staged in Paris two months before the Franco-Prussian War broke out, is considered the last Romantic ballet. A collaboration between choreographer Arthur Saint-Léon, librettist Charles Nuitter, and composer Léo Delibes, it tells a comic story of a village couple, Swanilda and Franz, and a mysterious doll maker, Dr. Coppélius.
Tip 2
Delibes incorporated several national dances, all the rage then in Paris, into Coppélia’s score, setting a precedent for future ballet composers.

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December 2015 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Tombé Pas de Bourrée and Royale

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Tip 1
Tombé pas de bourrée is one of classical ballet’s most common connecting steps, and it lends itself to all forms of center work. Yet its importance is often overlooked, and it can wind up being a combination’s sloppiest-looking step. Students may spend most of their mental energy on preparing for the trick that follows the tombé pas de bourrée, forgetting that in dance, every step counts.
Tip 2
Graduating from changements to royales can leave even the most talented students feeling “toe-tied.” A simple way for them to feel the correct sensation in a royale is to break down the step.

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November 2015 | FYI

Toledo Ballet dancers will re-create part of choreographer Michael Lang's 2011 Museum of Dreams through a collaboration with Toledo Museum of Art. Photo by Photo Works

What’s up in the dance community

Julie Kent to Head ABT Summer Programs

John McFall Takes a Bow in Atlanta

Artwork Comes Alive in Toledo

Motion Captured by Lois Greenfield

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November 2015 | Collective Wisdom

CollectiveT

“Reality Check: Absence Mindedness”: I am hiring a new teacher; we are days away from making it final. She just told me that she will be away the first week of classes on a trip she’s had planned for a while, so she will not be able to teach her first night. She’s excited about teaching in a studio again with young kids and I am excited because it’s difficult to find a good hip-hop teacher in my area. How would all of you handle a prospective teacher missing the first night of classes? Do you think I should look for another teacher? —Chrystie Kenny Greco

“Classroom Connection: Reminders”: By the time advanced students walk into my classes they know all the steps in the traditional ballet vocabulary. This is not to say they aren’t still learning. And I’ve found that one way to make sure they do so, consistently and continuously, is to use “reminding” tools: verbal cueing, asking, sharing, and touching.

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November 2015 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | Early Ballet Music and Giselle

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1
Until the 1820s, a ballet’s music was often a compilation of popular tunes, opera melodies, and original pieces by one or more composers, tailored to fit the story. Early ballet composers, hired to provide simple accompaniments for the solo and ensemble dances, were of lower stature than their symphonic counterparts. The choreographer decided the rhythms and number of bars for each dance, and the composer improvised music to fit. Mime scenes often borrowed melodies from well-known songs with words that fit the action; the association helped the audience understand the mime. By the 1830s, however, these musical practices were changing. Full-length, two-act ballets were being performed, and original ballet music was increasingly needed.
Tip 2
In 1841, Giselle debuted in Paris with music by French opera composer Adolphe Adam (1803–1856). Adam excelled in the new genre of ballet music. Giselle’s score, mostly written in major keys, uses minor tonalities to emphasize key themes and moments, including Hilarion’s theme, Albrecht’s entrance in the second act, the appearances of the Wilis, and the deaths of both Hilarion and Giselle.

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November 2015 | EditorSpeak

Photo by Chris Hardy

“Bravo for Ballet”: Ballet gets a bad rap. Kids complain: it’s boring and tedious, old-fashioned, rigid. And the music! All those old guys. Ugh. [Cue universal eye-roll.]

“Paris Opera Ballet, Virtually”: Many casual dance fans came to know Benjamin Millepied through his work on a film (Black Swan), so it’s fitting that Millepied—now director of Paris Opera Ballet—would turn a camera on his own dancers as a way of promoting them to the wider world.

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November 2015 | Ballet Scene | Character Dance

Mount Airy (MD) Performing Arts Center students study character dance as part of their RAD training. They are introduced to traditional steps and costumes such as these Grade 2 dancers practicing a heel degage.

In classical ballet, the traditions of European culture come alive onstage. Watch a production of Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, or Don Quixote and you’ll see fairy tales and stories of royalty and ordinary people told through the classical technique handed down from King Louis XIV. But you’ll also see character dances—ballet versions of traditional folk dances such as the Hungarian czardas, in 2/4 or 4/4 time; the Polish mazurka, in 3/4 time; the krakowiak, a fast, syncopated dance in duple time from the region of Krakow; the Italian tarantella, usually danced with tambourines in 6/8 time; and the Spanish seguidilla, in quick triple time that often starts on the “off” beat.

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November 2015 | Ballet, Danish Style

Former Royal Danish Ballet dancer Dinna Bjorn preps students for a demonstration performance of Bournonville's Napoli.

What was an esteemed scholar of pre-Romantic ballet doing in a small town in northern Utah last summer? “Just trying to give students a flavor of Bournonville technique,” says Dinna Bjørn, now retired from her roles as a Royal Danish Ballet (RDB) principal dancer, director of the Norwegian National Ballet, and ballet mistress of the Finnish National Ballet. Bjørn, a respected authority on August Bournonville, has been traveling the world for the last 40 years, teaching and coaching the works and technique of the Danish master.

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November 2015 | Ballet on Broadway

The show gambled by including three extended ballet sequences. Photo by Angela Sterling

For decades, Broadway and ballet have shared a bloodline, if not exactly a blessed marriage. And a select number of ballet choreographers from George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, and Jerome Robbins onward have gained fame and felt equally at home on the Great White Way and on the ballet stage. But the recent artistic and box office success of the Tony Award–winning An American in Paris, choreographed by ballet’s prolific whiz kid, Christopher Wheeldon, has many wondering if Broadway has embraced a new type of musical essentially driven by ballet as a theatrical tool.

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November 2015 | Moving Images

MovingImT

Videos of note (new and not)
1. The Dance Goodbye
2. Black & White Ballets
3. Creole Giselle
4. American Ballet Theatre: A History

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November 2015 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | When Rond de Jambe Is Wrong

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Tip 1
Periodically I have to revisit the mechanics of soutenu détourné, because students want to rond de jambe their working leg slightly when closing to sous-sus. This is easiest to correct at the barre, slowed way down, to make sure technique is not compromised.

Without music, have students execute and hold each step in the sequence: a well-placed and square tendu soutenu à la seconde, a tight and lifted sous-sus, and détourné with a crisp spot and tidy finish. Watch how each student closes to sous-sus; the leg should travel in a direct line, with no hint of a rond de jambe. Once students do it cleanly, practice with slow-tempo music, then work up to a brisker speed. If at any point you see students returning to their rond de jambe habit, slow the exercise down again. Make sure to practice soutenu détourné both en dedans and en dehors.

Tip 2
Chassé en tournant can be a striking step in performance, because it has exciting elements—a jump, a turning step, and a traveling step—and plenty of room to add extra dynamics with port de bras. A common mistake is adding a quarter rond de jambe before taking off in the jump. Forced to compensate for the extra inertia, students may sway their backs and/or let their core muscles go.

Remind students that, with or without the turn, the only leg traffic for this step is: plié in fifth position, chassé to sous-sus in the air, plié in fifth. Have students master this sequence before adding the turn in the air, and make sure they don’t try to bring the leg to à la seconde before closing to sous-sus derrière.

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November 2015 | Page Turners

PageTrnT

Books of note (new and not)
1. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina
2. Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet (3rd revised ed.)
3. Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet
4. Ballet Shoes

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October 2015 | FYI

rtistic and executive director Robert Curran starts this season at Louisville Ballet with generous funds to support his artistic vision. Photo by Sam English

What’s up in the dance community

Warming of U.S.–Cuba Relations Leads to Historic Giselle

Louisville Ballet Benefits From $1 Million Anonymous Gift

Risky Marketing Makeover Yields Big Rewards

I’ll Take That Dance to Go

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October 2015 | Moving Images

MovingImagesT

Videos of note (new and not)
1. Peter and the Wolf
2. Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance
3. Mary Wigman: The Soul of Dance
4. Mat Ek’s Carmen

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October 2015 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not)
1. A Time to Dance
2. Tallulah’s Solo
3. Ballet Spectacular: A Young Ballet Lover’s Guide and an Insight Into a Magical World
4. Creative Dance for All Ages (2nd ed.)

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October 2015 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Port de Bras for Jumps

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Tip 1
A coordinated port de bras during a jump preparation is key to reaching full potential in the air. Often arms aren’t being allowed to help achieve big jumps because students aren’t timing their arms’ momentum to coordinate with “lift-off.”

To help students grasp this concept, even before attempting small jumps in center, have them stand with feet parallel and slightly separated. Ask them to bend their knees, keeping the feet flat on the ground, then jump as far forward as possible without using their arms. Next have them swing their arms back and forth. Have them jump forward as their arms swing back—that will feel wrong. Then have them jump forward as their arms swing forward—that will propel them into a longer jump.

This exercise demonstrates how helpful arms can be (when swinging with correct coordination) in propelling our movements; a well-coordinated port de bras is the balletic equivalent.

Tip 2
Try this exercise to correct students who, in coupé jeté manèges, are cutting short the port de bras in the coupé. Have dancers extend the arms in first arabesque, right arm in front. Ask them to make the right middle fingertip the starting point, and also the anchor, of an imaginary circle.

Next, have them move the left hand and arm to connect to the anchored fingertip, completing the circle—as they would do in a coupé turn. Insist that the right fingertip stay still in space and the left middle fingertip reach to complete the circle. Students will have to move their upper and lower bodies toward the anchored fingertip to achieve this. Then have them attempt a coupé jeté using the same principle.

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September 2015 | Collective Wisdom

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“Reality Check: Teacher Transitions”: Q: I’m three years in, and it’s happening: I just put out our schedule for next year, and some of the young students I’ve taught will have different teachers. Enrollment has gone from 25 to 150 in three years, so naturally I can’t teach them all anymore. I’m starting to hear parents say, “We come here for her.” Most of these parents don’t know the other teachers, so I will be introducing them, making bios available, and holding meet-and-greets. What more can I do to convince them to trust my judgment in selecting a faculty? They will have me as a teacher again in a year or two. (I teach all levels, but there are multiple classes in each level.) I would appreciate advice on how to navigate the next month during early enrollment. I cannot continue spreading myself too thin. —Chrystie Kenny Greco

“Classroom Connection: Ballet Obstacle Course”: I came up with this activity because our focus of the month was “pathways.” I thought this was an opportunity to hone my ballet students’ focus and to offer a fun alternative to the usual ways in which they travel across the floor. It works best with dancers ages 6 years and older. Younger students may have a difficult time understanding and doing the activity unless you choose easier steps and paths.

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September 2015 | Ballet Scene | Raising the Barre

Students at New Hampshire School of Ballet are required to take ballet if they wanat to be part of the competition team.

As anyone who participates in competitions knows, ballet entries are rare. Ballet is one of the toughest competition categories: ballet technique is not as forgiving as jazz or contemporary—the legs are either turned out and stretched and the feet pointed, or they’re not. Teachers are often hesitant to compete in ballet because they want to showcase their students at their best—and often, their best isn’t ballet.

As both a choreographer and judge, I’ve learned a lot about staging ballet for competitions, and I’ve seen the benefits. My school has been entering ballet and pointe pieces in competitions for 20 years, and I make competing in a ballet group piece mandatory for all students on the team. If you make ballet a priority at your school and challenge your students to put their ballet technique on the stage, you’ll step up their training, encourage self-discipline, and help change the mindset of your team.

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September 2015 | FYI

FYIT

What’s up in the dance community

Ballet in Cleveland Branches Out

Harkness Medical Insight Shared Online

Moving Up

Competition Founder Roland Dupree Dies

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September 2015 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Inside Pirouettes

Photo by Becky Montalvo

A common mistake with inside pirouettes is turning in the passé leg during the turn. To correct this, have your students start in a straight-leg lunge preparation.

The straight leg in the lunge preparation for an inside pirouette harnesses a great deal of the energy and force needed to get a dancer on balance and turning. Yet students often rely too heavily on their upper bodies during the preparation, swinging their arms to acquire momentum.

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August 2015 | Moving Images

MovingImagesT

Videos of note (new and not)
1. Floor-Barre® & Ballet for Young Dancers: Series VIII
2. Sasha Waltz: A Portrait
3. The Red Shoes
4. Dancing in the Light: Six Dances by African-American Choreographers

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August 2015 | Page Turners

PageTurnersT

Books of note (new and not)
1. Like a Bomb Going Off: Leonid Yakobson and Ballet as Resistance in Soviet Russia
2. Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet
3. A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream
4. Irina Baronova and the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo

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August 2015 | FYI

Performances by Heidi Latsky Dance promoted Dance/NYC's initiative to provide opportunities to disabled dancers. Photo by Arial Sneed

What’s up in the dance community

Chicago Dancers Help Their Own

Access to Dance for the Disabled

Joffrey Establishes an Endowment

A Ballet Barn Dance

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August 2015 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Port de Bras: Basics and Generosity

Photo by Becky Montalvo

A universal truth in any dance form, and especially in ballet, is that a dancer’s arms must be expressive and show generosity to the audience.

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July 2015 | EditorSpeak

Photo by Chris Hardy

“Balance: Beyond the Classroom”: What I do believe in is this: striving for wholeness and balance in every aspect of life. When we do that, we learn where to focus our self-confidence so that it yields the greatest results. If you’re like me, working toward wholeness and balance is an ongoing process, difficult to master. But I’ll keep striving for both.

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July 2015 | Ballet Scene | Artists in Charge

Jarod  Boltjes and Brittany Adams in Zoe Emilie Henrot's Gray Matter. All photos by Lori Gleason

Imagine a team of dedicated people working together, employing a wide range of skills and knowledge, doing whatever is needed to sustain their organization and keep it growing. Some might call it crowdsourcing, others collaboration. At Saint Paul Ballet (SPB), they call it an artist-led ballet company, and it’s working.

This model has dancers who function not only as performing artists but also take on the administrative roles that keep the company running: some work on public relations, others outreach, marketing, production, or fundraising.

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July 2015 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Moving Into Attitude Derrière & Développé

Photo by Becky Montalvo

I frequently end barre combinations with a pirouette into attitude derrière. It’s good for students to feel the passé-to-attitude transition and practice balancing out of it. Left unchecked, however, students may contort their torsos and lean toward the barre trying to get the attitude leg up high.

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July 2015 | Mindful Marketing | Creativity Makes the Most of Nutcracker

Dancers find out their roles when they wake up to find signs posted outside their houses.

The Ballet Company of East County (BCEC), in Brentwood, California, has been producing a Nutcracker for 10 years. In that time we have tried many different internal and external marketing techniques, including the expected ones like newspaper articles, local parades, farmers markets, flyers, and posters. But we like to come up with new, fun ideas.

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May-June 2015 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Controlling Pirouettes

Photo by Becky Montalvo

When a student’s upper body is not active in a pirouette, the turn itself begins to suffer. It’s not only important to maintain a turned-out passé, high relevé, and strong spot; a dancer’s torso (the back and core muscles) must also be engaged throughout the turn.

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May-June 2015 | Ballet Scene | Teacher Transformation

Khilea Douglass, a teacher at Lula Washington Dance Theatre, says Project Plie has given her new teaching tools; an awareness of structure and child development. Photo by Mesiyah McGinnis

When American Ballet Theatre initiated its outreach program Project Plié in 2013, the company’s CEO, Rachel Moore, was clear about the lack of diversity in ballet schools and companies and the need to mitigate the problem. “My observation is that currently in the U.S. none of the major ballet companies have a female principal dancer of color,” says Moore. “I think it’s a real problem because American ballet companies should look like America. As the demographics of this country change, in order for ballet companies to remain relevant, we need to change with them.”

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May-June 2015 | FYI

Taking a bow at the 11th International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize are winners (from left) Yury Yanowsky,, Hannah Fischer, and Carlo Di Lanno. Photo by Bruce Zinger

What’s up in the dance community:

Filmmakers Tap Into Inspiration

Dance in Hidden Spaces

Chicago Dance History Project

Erik Bruhn Prize Winners

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